ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Human Female Mate Choice from an Evolutionary Perspective

Updated on September 21, 2015
A.A. Zavala profile image

Served in the U.S. Army, attended and graduated from The University of Texas-Arlington with a bachelors in psychology and minor in sociology

What do humans find attractive?

Human female mate choice and selection has been topic of interest both in the scientific community and in popular culture. In popular culture there are books and websites giving women pointers on finding the ideal mate. There are shows on T.V. perpetuating stereotypes of what an ideal mate should look like, act like, be like. But what are the core attributes that cause women to be attracted to certain males? What are the evolutionary mechanisms that cause one male to be more attractive than another? The subject of human female mate selection is vast and diverse, but there are some scientific studies that may shed some light on the topic.

Facial characteristics and mate selection

Facial characteristics may be a factor in determining whether females select certain males over other males. Experiments conducted by Kruger (2006) sought to investigate this link. The author conducted three experiments to investigate women’s reactions to masculine and feminine male faces. One study geometrically manipulated the look of the males face and measured the ratings given to each face. The second study tested the mating trade off hypothesis that a “woman’s partner preference should be related to the length of the relationship and expectations for genetic and parental investments.” (p.455). The author hypothesized that if females choose males based on facial masculinity, then attributions based on personality and reproductive strategy would also be linked to facial masculinity. The final study had participant’s group behavioral tendencies, high mating effort/risk strategies and high parenting/risk adverse strategies between masculine or feminine faces. Kruger concluded that “Highly masculine faces are associated with riskier and more competitive behavioral strategies, higher mating effort, and lower parenting effort in comparison to less masculine faces.” (p.460). The author found that women tend to choose men with masculine faces for short term relationships, but favored men with feminine faces for long term relationships/marriage. One possible explanation for this conclusion is that men with masculine faces may have other attributes associated with masculinity. They may have higher testosterone levels, engage in risky behaviors (hunting, competition for mates, conduct war), and may not survive long enough to be considered for a long term relationship. Men with feminine faces may not be seen as engaging in these risky behaviors, therefore they may live a long time and be able to increase their parental investment in their offspring.

Women compare each other

The way that women compare themselves to other women may influence the type of males they find attractive. A study conducted by Little and Mannion (2006) investigated the correlation between self attractiveness and preferences for male masculinity. The study measured and recorded the responses of 65 women from age 16-45. They were asked to rate the attractiveness of 40 women on a scale from 1-10 from an online database. Then the participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about self ratings and body attractiveness. During the final portion of the experiment women were shown 10 pairs of male faces, one masculine and one feminine, and were asked to select the most attractive face. The results indicated that women who viewed images of attractive women rated themselves lower on the self-report questionnaire and demonstrated a preference for men’s faces that were less masculine. However, women who viewed the pictures of unattractive women rated themselves higher on the self-report questionnaire and demonstrated a preference for more masculine faces. The researchers concluded that “If intrasexual competition for mates in females is based on such uncontrollable traits, we might expect them to have sophisticated mechanisms for estimating their relative worth within a population.” (p.985). The study indicates that women adjust their preferences in mate selection based on their own self perception and self esteem. Women who perceive themselves as attractive may be more confident and select masculine males as potential mates. These women may see their rewards in having offspring who are attractive, more capable of finding mates of their own in a competitive environment.

Female control of resources

The effects of female control of resources may have an impact on the mates that women select. Research conducted by Moore, Cassidy, Smith and Perrett (2006) investigated the effects of the amount of resources women have and their mate preferences. The authors recruited 2788 heterosexual female participants’ age 18-35 years old to participate in the study. The participants answered a questionnaire asking about demographic information. They were also asked about the relationship they would prefer if they were looking for one on the day of testing. To measure control of resources, participants were asked to rank on a scale form 1-7 the importance of career, access to resources, financial independence, and how much input they have on decisions at home. And finally they were asked to rank 13 characteristics in order of importance in a potential partner for a long term relationship. The sample characteristics included good financial prospects, ambition and industriousness, favorable social status, and physical attractiveness. The results from the study indicated that women who controlled their own resources would chose physically attractive mates and were more tolerant if they were younger than them. Their mate’s level of resources wasn’t a factor. Women who didn’t control their resources chose mates who had more financial resources and were older than they were. The findings suggest that women who control their own resources may not see the capability of their mates providing resources as important as the women who don’t control their own. Women who don’t have many resources may select their mate on the level of parental investment that they can provide for their offspring.

References

Workman, L., & Reader, W. (2004). Evolutionary Psychology, an introduction. (455, 460, 985) Cambridge, UK. Cambridge University Press

Kruger DJ. Male facial masculinity influences attributions of personality and reproductive strategy.Personal Relationships. 2006;13:451–463

Little, A.C., & Mannion, H. (2006). Viewing attractive or unattractive same-sex individuals changes self-rated attractiveness and face preferences in women. Animal Behavior, 72, 981-987.

Moore, F.R., Cassidy, C., Smith, M.J.L., & Perrett, D.I. (2006a). The effects of female control of resources sex-differentiated mate preferences. Evolution and Human Behavior, 27, 193-205.

© 2008 Augustine A. Zavala

The psychology of love

Did you choose your mate based on their reproductive fitness?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • A.A. Zavala profile imageAUTHOR

      Augustine A Zavala 

      2 years ago from Texas

      Thank you Precision Golf for the comment and visit!

    • Precision Golf profile image

      Maddie Aliprandi 

      2 years ago from Wollongong

      Awesome article! Very interesting!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)